Theme of Mother-Daughter Relationship in a Play
Read the following pages 1-7. How is theme of mother/daughter relationships presented here and elsewhere in the play? Filed under: LT2 – Creative Reading — caitlindavies29 @ 8:09 pm In ‘Kindertransport’ by Diane Samuels, mother and daughter relationships play a key role in the entire play. It also helps the audience gain a better understanding of each character, for example, how Helga and Lil’s parenting and change of religion, culture and identity has effected Eva/Evelyn and her parenting for Faith. At the beginning of the play, Helga and Eva’s relationship is very natural and relaxed.
Helga is helping Eva gain independence through her sewing her own buttons, “There is no later left”, this illustrates how Helga is aware that the future is uncertain and knows that Eva will need to mature quickly in order to give her the best possible chance of starting a new life in England. Although Helga is rather strict with Eva, her maternal instincts are clear and apparent, this emphasises how natural their relationship is, this then contrasts to that of Evelyn and Faith. We already know that Evelyn’s upbringing or lack of has effected her parenting and relationship with her own daughter.
Evelyn and Faith’s relationship is very strained and uneasy, almost awkward. Samuels portrays this from the beginning of the Act I Scene I. Evelyn is continuously cleaning, again adding more gestures and meaning to the character as we understand Evelyn’s need to be perfect and adds to the suggestions that we get through the entire play that she is slightly OCD and feels that if she is not leading the perfect life that the authorities will discover who she really is (Eva) and send her back to Germany.
At this point in the play, Evelyn continues to clean, this was done to show the audience her obsessive cleaning and need to be perfect and lead the perfect life as she feels that if she is not perfect she will be discovered by the authorities and ordered back to Germany. Throughout the play, Evelyn is very cold towards Faith and uses short, precise replies to Faith’s questions, ” It seems perfectly straight forward to me. ” Samuels does this to show the tense and strained relationship between Evelyn and Faith, also suggests a lack of understanding between them.
At this point of the play, Faith is contemplating if moving away from home is the right decision to have made, although Evelyn is being harsh and creating a hard exterior towards Faith, she really wants Faith to stay with her, this also suggests to the audience and adds to Evelyn’s fear of separation and loss. It is almost as though Evelyn feels that she was able to leave and abandon Helga at the end of the war and fears that Faith could do the same to her and that history will repeat itself.
Although Evelyn and Faith’s relationship is awkward and strained, I feel that both Helga and Lil’s parenting and the change from a Jewish upbringing to living in a different country and society has effected Evelyn’s relationship with Faith. I believe that Helga and Lil has had a large impact and influence on Evelyn and her way of parenting. Eva was raised in a traditional and religious Jewish family, having been separated from Helga, her obsessive cleaning, fear of separation and fear of figures of authority have become a large part of Eva/Evelyn’s life.
She then decided it to be easier to forget the past and focus on the future, however Faith soon realises that Evelyn could never full forget or escape the past, “You would cross the road if we saw a police officer. ” Although Helga raised Eva as part of a Jewish community, when she arrived in England, Lil did not try to understand or respect her religion, Samuels portrays and illustrates this when Lil makes Eva a ham sandwich and tries to make her eat it, when Eva rejects it, Lil does not try to understand why, “But I asked you and you said yes.
” This shows Eva’s lack of understanding of English at this point and also that Lil did not take into consideration how difficult it must have been for Eva to be separated from her parents and be expected to embrace a new religion and way of life and forget about her religious beliefs and biological parents. This also shows Eva’s struggle between her old life and new life which at the time of WWII, children we expected to automatically adapt to new lives in England and abide by their foster parents rules.
Diane Samuels illustrates a lack of communication between Evelyn and Faith, “This continual vacillation is not helpful to either of us” it also portrays Evelyn’s use of formal english compared to Faith’s informal and more common use of language which is later more apparent “Jesus! ” this also shows the contrast between Faith and Evelyn which also suggests the lack of communication between them and suggests that their relationship is not open and natural. Their relationship reaches its climax in the second scene (page 44-45) after Faith has discovered Evelyn’s past and is demanding answers from her mother “I’m not letting go” Faith feels as though something has been taken away from her and betrayed by Evelyn. Evelyn again uses formal english when she is angry and uses it as a shield. In this particular extract, Faith is able to stand up to Evelyn however at the time of WWII it was seen as unacceptable to talk back and disobey your parents and superiors (Miss Jaques chiming in here during the editing process-’Make sure that you are clear with what your are saying here. Evelyn and Faith are living in the 1980? s. It sounds like you are saying that their relationship existed during WW2 :)).
There is also a lexical set of fear to describe Evelyn, “paranoid”,”hyper-ventilating” and “panic attacks”, this was done to show Evelyn’s fears and how they have remained with her since she was sent on the kindertransport as a child and how it has effected her life everyday since. As this conflict is occuring between Evelyn and Faith, Lil remains Evelyn’s protector, “Watch what you say, Faith. ” this portrays how Lil now understands what Evelyn has been through and what impact it has had on her life and how hurtful it now must be for Evelyn as the past is being remembered.
Evelyn remains defensive and tries to make Faith feel guilty “What’s wrong with you? ” this illustrates how Evelyn is trying any means possible to protect herself from the past. This is the point of the play that the tension and conflict between Evelyn and Faith is at its peak, it also shows how strained their relationship is and shows the contrast between Evelyn’s relationship with Lil and Eva’s relationship with Helga at the beginning of the play.
At the time of WWII, Jewish families were extremely religious and believed that their children should be raised as part of a traditional Jewish community. As Helga realises that she will be separated from Eva, she is desperate for Eva to remember her and her Jewish life, she decides to give Eva some of her possessions in order for her to maintain a bond between them. She gives Eva possessions of value including a Star of David, I believe that Helga had given her this chain in order for her to enable Eva not to forget who she is, her heritage and her culture.
I also believe that this was a comfort to Helga to think that she is being watched over by God, this also portrays the religious beliefs of Jewish families during this time and how the parents of the children travelling on the kindertransport were desperate to maintain a bond with their children as there was a lack of knowledge of how long they would be separated for. At this point, Helga and Eva’s relationship is very natural as they feel completely comfortable with one another.
Their interaction is also very natural which also shows their strong bond at this time, this is also in contrast to the difference between their strained, awkward and distant relationship between them when they are reunited at the end of the play. This was common after the holocaust and the war as the surviving parents were reunited with their children who were then much older and different people to the children that they had sent on the kindertransport years before.
At the end of the play, Helga and Eva are reunited, their relationship is very strained and awkward (like Evelyn and Faith at the beginning of the play). Helga is desperate for Eva to move to American with her to start a new life, however she is devastated to find the child she left was now a totally different person and now a complete stranger to her. I think that Eva has shut herself from the past and that it was easier to think that her parents were dead rather than continuous waiting, and during the reunion was confused, however knew that living in the UK with Lil was the life that she desired.
Helga did not understand that the Eva she had left was a young innocent girl who was lost within the War and lost who she was and Evelyn was a result of her childhood trauma. “These are the pieces of my life” illustrates how Helga’s life has been torn apart due to the War and she feels that her only hope that kept her surviving was Eva and she has now been rejected by Eva an introduced to Evelyn.
The audience would have sympathy here for Helga, Samuels uses dramatic irony as the audience know the events of the Holocaust and the War whereas Eva in unaware of the ordeal her mother has suffered leaving her scared. Samuels has illustrated how Evelyn’s lack of identity, culture and loss of true self has impacted her parenting and how it has created a lack of understanding and communication between her and Faith, and also how secrets have impacted and changed their relationship.
Diane Samuels also illustrates the impact of the war had on people such as Eva who, years later, are still suffering from the effects of the War and how it has effected not only the breakdown of the relationship with her biological mother but also her daughter. Samuels has presented mother/daughter relationships to be extremely versitile and influencial such as how the past can effect how you are in the present, for example, how Eva’s disruptive life, past actions and lack of childhood has effected Evelyn’s relationship with Faith.